Orders of the Day — Miss Hilda Murrell

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:43 am on 26th June 1985.

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Photo of Mr Giles Shaw Mr Giles Shaw , Pudsey 1:43 am, 26th June 1985

The House may be forgiven for wondering in what capacity the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) was addressing the House. Was he addressing it in his capacity as a Member of the House, in his capacity as an acting detective sergeant (unpaid) or in relation to the publication of some books?

The hon. Gentleman read out a series of questions which are directly related to an investigation which in his view should long since have been concluded and the matter resolved. Everyone in the House would agree that that should have been the case. This matter has not been concluded. As my hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Mr. Conway) reminded the House, the investigation is continuing. Despite the fact that the hon. Gentleman has had substantial access to those involved in the investigation and the fact that he has received categoric assurances from me in the House and by letter, he is still raising some of the issues about which there has been a clear exchange of views.

I must seek to answer some of the points that the hon. Gentleman raised. The first was about why the report by Mr. Smith, the assistant chief constable of Northumbria, is not publicly available. The review of the investigation was undertaken by Mr. Smith at the request of the then chief constable of West Mercia, Mr. Cozens. Mr. Smith has reported to the new chief constable, Mr. Mullett.

There are two highly cogent reasons for not making public the detail of the report which the chief constable explained in his statement to the press today. First, the report deals with a continuing investigation and thus contains details of confidential operational information. Secondly, the publication of such details would, in the event of a future arrest, detract from, if not destroy, their evidential value. Those are cogent and important reasons.

The hon. Gentleman asked to whom the report was made. It was made by Mr. Smith to the chief constable of West Mercia and it is for him to determine whether it should be published. Those are his views, and I have no reason to doubt that they are cogent and should be observed in this case.